Catlow Drinking Fountain

Location:  Darwen, Lancashire, England

This Edwardian cast iron drinking fountain was donated by John Catlow and Sons to celebrate the coronation on 9 August 1902 of King Edward. It was erected in Whitehall Park in 1906. Water to supply the fountain was drawn from a natural spring within the park.

The structure was listed an English Heritage Building Grade II on the 27 September 1984. In 2010, restoration of the fountain was undertaken by Leander Architectural with a donation from Sita Resource Management. The rusty structure was blast cleaned and repainted white. Missing enrichments were cast using molds created from original drawings, and original busts of Royalty were replaced with cranes, a standard enrichment. A dedication plaque states: Whitehall Park Supporters Group / Catlow Fountain Restoration / By Leander Architectural / Funded By Sita Trust / And Sponsored By / W.M. & B.W. Lloyd / Charity Trust 2010.

The canopied drinking fountain is number 21 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalog manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a three tiered octagonal plinth, the canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals. Unfortunately During restoration the incorrect griffin model with outstretched wings was applied (this model was associated with canopy number 8 which had 4 columns and the outstretched wings lay on the arches.) The pattern for canopy 21 should contain griffins with wings tucked in to the side.

The highly decorated fret detail arches are trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offered shields for memorial, ‘In commemoration of the Coronation, Messrs John Catlow & Sons’, and busts of Royalty.

On each side, arch faceplates provided a flat surface for an inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep the pavement dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains. The ribbed dome which is open filigree decorated with dove and flower relief has missing panels at the top of the dome. The internal capitals are floral ornament. A vase with obelisk finial originally at the apex has been replaced with a floral spike.

Under the canopy stands the font (casting number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. The basin which has a scalloped edge and decorative relief is supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders, a symbol of courage and bravery. A central urn with four consoles offer drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal is a crane.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; salamanders display bravery and courage that cannot be extinguished by fire; and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.


  • Capital, The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

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